Su Thompson, Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, UBC
How is migration understood by grade 11 students who have experienced it firsthand?
To what extent does the Social Studies curriculum contribute to students’ understanding of migration?
Having been a Geography teacher in the UK, my ongoing interest over the past two years has been how Geography is taught in British Columbia .This has moved from an initial incredulity that Geography is not taught as a separate subject to growing disquiet that the spatial component of the Social Studies curriculum has has been overridden by the temporal. Poor Neville Scarfe (whose name adorns the Faculty of Education building), a Geographer by trade, must be spinning in his grave.
Since I am an immigrant myself, I want to find out how first generation grade 11 students understand migration, given that it is a component of the Social Studies 11 curriculum in BC, and whether they can make any connections between the prescribed curriculum and their own experiences. My concern has been for those students who are economically and culturally marginalised, and to find a way to give them an opportunity to be heard...without romanticising their situation in the process. I believe that students should have a voice in what and how they are taught, and that they are more than capable of creating knowledge themselves.
My overriding concern is that the research I complete is useful - that it doesn’t sit gathering dust in the UBC library. My hope is that I’m able to in some way influence those responsible for writing the Social Studies curriculum. For me, research is not an end in itself; it has to change something, create something, improve something. Over the past couple of years, I’m been moved to tears of frustration reading through scholarly work that may have advanced the career of the author, but has done nothing to improve the experience of school.
I’ve encountered several authors who have taught and inspired me (my devotion to Bourdieu is bordering on the embarrassing); my research findings will be scrutinised using Wayne Au’s critical curriculum standpoint:I would describe my thinking on curriculum and pedagogy neo-Marxism for the faint-hearted.
I’m grateful to Peter Seixas for so kindly allowing me to be a part of the Centre - particularly since I’m a Geographer! I’m also indebted to Anne Phelen and Wayne Ross, who along with Peter, make up a very accommodating and supportive supervising committee.